New rules for a Section 21 Notice for possession of property let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy

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A Section 21 Notice under the 1988 Housing Act is served on a tenant where the Landlord requires possession at the end of a fixed term of an Assured Shorthold tenancy.

Whilst a landlord does not have to provide reasons as to why he/she would like to regain possession of the property, the procedures of the section 21 Notice require that:

  • Landlords must give two months’ notice;
  • The notice cannot be served within the first 4 months of a tenancy.

Prior to 01 October 2015, a Section 21 Notice was relatively simple to implement and generally  faced little opposition if served correctly. For several years, Landlords have relied on the Section 21 procedure to enable them to evict tenants quickly and on a no-fault basis.

The Deregulation Act 2015 marks the latest stage of government intervention which has introduced further challenges for a landlord in managing and gaining possession of properties let under an assured shorthold tenancy.

Under the Deregulation Act, the provisions of section 33 and 34 are designed to combat retaliatory evictions. Section 33 of the Deregulation Act states that a landlord can no longer serve a section 21 Notice if the following events have taken place:

  • The tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord regarding the condition of the property;
  • The landlord did not provide a response to that complaint within 14 days of the complaint being made or provided an inadequate response;
  • The tenant has made a complaint to the local housing authority about the landlord’s failure to respond to its written complaint;
  • The local housing authority serves a remedial notice on the landlord in response to the tenant’s complaint.

Additionally further requirements must now be met for a Section 21 Notice to be valid. Landlords must provide their tenants with the following documents:

  • The Energy Performance Certificate for the property;
  • An up-to-date gas safety certificate for the property;
  • The CLG booklet “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”.

Safeguards have been included in the legislation to provide some protection for Landlords. The following instances will invalidate a tenant’s challenge to the Section 21 Notice:

  • If the complaint is made by the tenant after the service of a Section 21 Notice by the landlord;
  • If the disrepair complained of has been caused by the tenant;
  • If a mortgagee is exercising a power of sale under a mortgage granted prior to the beginning of the tenancy;
  • If, at the point at which the section 21 Notice was served, the property was genuinely being marketed for sale.

It is worth noting that the new provisions only apply to tenancies which commenced after 1 October 2015. Existing tenants will not have the benefit of these provisions until 1 October 2018.

With all this in mind, it is now more important than ever for a landlord’s Section 21 Notice to be issued correctly.

If you are a landlord and wish to issue a Section 21 Notice to gain possession of a property let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or if you require more general guidance about how to evict a tenant, please contact us on 0808 139 1606. Alternatively you can email us at [email protected]